Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sick baby

It's 4am Saturday morning. Chloé's crying (this is not unexpected), so I take her out of her crib to nurse her. But she doesn't really want to nurse. And she feels very warm. Scheisse, I think, and take her out to the living room.
Yep, she's got a temperature. 38.9 (102°F). What do I do now?!
Read. The baby book. "What if your child is sick?" chapter. Okay...Up to 39° is not too serious. Okay...So should I give her tylenol, or just put her to bed? But first, how do I get her to stop crying??
And meanwhile Gaetan is snoring away in the bedroom. Men! I think, although I know that you can hear almost nothing from the living room when both doors are closed. I decide to let him sleep. There's no point in both of us being awake.
After not too much carrying and cooing Chloé does indeed fall asleep and I put her back to bed. Gaetan wakes up when the bed squeaks as I slip under the covers.
Ca va? he asks.
Chloé has a fever, I say.
Yeah, just go to sleep, we'll see how she is in the morning.
And so we sleep.

We all sleep until 6:30 (not too bad), but the fever is still there when Chloé wakes up. It's a little higher, and after re-reading the baby book, I decide it's time to try the pharmaceutical route. After the rectal thermometer, she gets a rectal tylenol. But she takes it well.
Sitting at the table with us while we have breakfast, she seems to be feeling okay. I give her a piece of bread to play with (she hardly ever puts stuff in her mouth, although she can chew on bread as long as we're paying attention that she doesn't try to inhale a huge piece). And surprise! She eats it! Well, presses it around her mouth for a while. Everything is fine. Then she looks at me, opens her mouth a little, coughs, and pukes up the bread and all the milk she drank this morning. She's crying and looking at me with eyes that say "Fix it mommy," but all I can do is hold her and tell her it'll be alright.

I have my Writer's Group this morning but I consider staying home. Gaetan urges me to go. He sounds very confident that she's doing better and they'll be fine for the morning. Trusting in his confidence, I go.
After the meeting, everyone goes for coffee. I really enjoy spending time with these people, and I figure Gaetan and Chloé will be able to do without me for an extra half hour or so. I call him to let him know.
So how is she? I ask.
Fine, he says. Well, not really. She puked again after the carrots. Then she cried for a while. But now she's asleep.
Geez! Then I'll come home.
No, no, stay. I'll wait for you for lunch.
Wow, I think, what a great husband and daddy.

The sick baby stays warm (but not terribly hot) and cranky all afternoon. I know a fever is there to fight something undesirable in the body, so I don't want to keep giving her tylenol, but I realize her crankiness is probably a result of the fever. We try to get her to sleep as often as possible, go for walks, go in the car (all the while keeping her bundled, but not too bundled, in the Cosi). She doesn't sleep well.
In the evening we decide to give her a bath. The steam must be good, the warmth. Maybe she'll enjoy the water. She plays a little. It seems to keep her calm.
I decide to just nurse her in the evening instead of giving her a bottle and cereal. Safer. As it happens, she doesn't barf, but she doesn't sleep, either. Finally at 11pm I tell Gaetan to go to bed - again, there's no reason for both of us to be up. I'll wake him up in two hours if she's still not sleeping.
After some wandering and bouncing through the living room, she sleeps. I try to make myself...not uncomfortable on the couch, and I sleep as well, for about an hour. Then she's awake and grumbly again. Doesn't want the boob. Doesn't want to sleep. Doesn't seem to want to be touched or talked to. Again I ask, what do I do?
Almost an hour goes by and it's two o'clock. She's not sleeping, I don't know what to do besides hold her, it's time to wake up Gaetan. He did agree to get up if needed. Well, I need to sleep so he's needed. So I wake him up.
And now I've got a grouchy husband and a grouchy baby. Great. And I feel all he's doing is trying to get out of his side of the bargain: he asks if I tried to put her in bed. Yes. Did you try to feed her? Yes. When? An hour ago. Why don't you try again? Ahh!
I try again. She eats. She goes to sleep. I'm still irritated that he didn't just take her and make himself comfortable (and it was comfortable; once I didn't have a baby in my arms I was able to set up the cushions just right) on the couch. But we sleep until 4.
The next morning she seems much better. Even at 4 her fever was gone, and at 6:30 we all feel, if not bright and cheery, at least able to start the day.
This was only our second experience with sick baby in her 8 months. I consider us lucky, definitely. But I wonder if it becomes easier to deal with if baby is sick more often, if you have the experience that baby is ill but will get better. Or if it never gets easy and all you can do is keep yourself from getting sick with worry.

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